Tokyo’s coffee scene has long been home to some of the world’s great cafes, and here at Sprudge we’ve covered the Tokyo coffee scene in detail since 2011, offering dozens of guides along the way. But one corner of the city we’ve overlooked is Takadanobaba—and we’re not the only ones.

Little known as a travel destination, this neighborhood—lovingly known as “Baba”—is home to an international student hub, thanks to its proximity to Waseda University and its dozens of Japanese language schools. Where there are students, coffee is close by. While you will find plenty of chain shops around Waseda-dori, including one Starbucks near Takadanobaba station; Caffé Veloce, Tully’s, and Doutor are all respectable chains to grab an affordable drink and get some work done. But you’re here for the best coffee shops in Takadanobaba, the memorable places you have to visit and can only experience here. Let us provide!

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If you’re up for having a stroll through the neighboring residential areas of Takadanobaba, Stroll is nestled north of the Kanda River and Nishiwaseda. Sandwiched between homes, it’s a lovely little spot to take a rest during your excursion through this slowed-down area of Tokyo.

After exiting Takadanobaba station, a 20-minute walk along the river lined with cherry blossom trees awaits, offering a beautiful way to reset between visiting Shinjuku and Shibuya. The immediate area radiates a quiet and cozy atmosphere, complete with a traditional Japanese garden, sports park, and corner shrines neighbors pray to on their way to the city, and Stroll blends perfectly into a chill afternoon.

Here you’ll be greeted upon entering the front of the shop, which features glass windows propped open to entice the curious. A silver La Marzocco sits atop a wooden espresso bar. The set menu can be found in large blue letters on the western wall but regularly rotated seasonal items are available if you are in the mood to try something new. Local pastry artist, O Kitchen, makes thick brownies, blondies, and other treats. I fell in love with Stroll’s iced coffee milk, a creamier and sweeter version of the cafe latte. It’s a nice sip to have while on a walk back to the river.

Stroll is located at 1 Chome−9−13 Mejirodai, Bunkyo City, Tokyo. Follow them on Instagram.

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10º Cafe

10º Cafe is a quick three-minute walk from the station, but it doesn’t take long for things to quiet down once you’re away from hustle and bustle. This cafe’s building is covered in ivy, and their format is ready-made for studying students. There’s a takeout window for students on the go, and the first and second floors are lined with tables and window seats. The third floor functions as a private co-working space that can be rented by the hour. Unlike most coffee shops in Tokyo, 10º has plenty of outlets to plug in and is open until the evening.

Offering an extensive menu of food options and sweet treats, 10º Cafe is equipped for your extended stay. The barista will give you a table number and a QR code to place your order from your table rather than the register. From Japanese curry, salad, and hamburg steak, those wanting to indulge in a kissaten-style meal can do so for a standard price and can complete it by upgrading to a set meal that includes a coffee, tea, or juice selection. A matcha frappe topped with whipped cream, matcha powder, and chocolate syrup, and a french toast to share are perfect to snack on midday.

10º Cafe is located at 3 Chome-12-8 Takada, Toshima City, Tokyo. Visit their official website and Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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B Cafe & Lab

Just across the JR East tracks on the west side of Takadanobaba station, B Cafe & Lab is hidden from the bustling Waseda-dori, but it’s a must-visit during your stay. The cafe offers a sort of dual functionality as both a cafe and production space. Operated out of an international art prep school, students and visitors alike can rent 3D printers, silkscreens, and equipment.

Whether you’re an art student or not, this coffee shop is unlike the other student/professional-friendly spots. Some shops provide a quiet space that can feel closed off to conversation, but B Cafe & Lab lends itself to a place to collaborate and enjoy delicious coffee and tea while viewing its rotating art gallery. The extensive coffee menu has the basics, espresso-based drinks, and whiskey coffee cocktails if you’re looking to perk up after a day of exploring. You can also grab a pastry, shokupan (Japanese milk bread) toast, or the popular Japanese affogato. If you cherish the small details, the moist towelettes adorned with hand-drawn characters are a nice touch.

B Cafe & Lab is located at 4 Chome-2-28 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku City, Tokyo. Visit their official website and follow them on Instagram.

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Orange Cat

If you’re exploring Waseda University during the day, add Orange Cat to your stops of the day.

Located in the basement of The Waseda International House of Literature (Haruki Murakami Library), it makes for a must-see whether you explore the library museum for the world-renowned author’s donated literary collection or just want a refreshing matcha latte.

Murakami, a Waseda graduate, has gone on to write dozens of short stories and novels, but before his authoring days, he operated a jazz cafe as a student with his future wife, lovingly named Peter Cat. Orange Cat and the library pay homage to Murakami’s love of jazz and its namesake Peter the Cat, an orange cat. The coffee shop has tables, individual seats, and a lounge area near an antique baby grand piano. If you’re lucky you may be able to hear live music during your stay.

Orange Cat is operated by student staff and offers light refreshments and set meals. If you’re in the mood for something other than coffee or tea, the signature Orange Cat is an orange cream soda. The library is open to the public, but make sure to check the website for hours of operation and if you need a reservation.

Orange Cat is located at 1 Chome-6-4, Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku City, Tokyo. Visit their official website and follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

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Another kissaten-style shop, Caress has a large menu of pork rice bowls, homemade sweets, and alcohol offerings alongside its coffee, tea, juice, and cream soda choices. Halfway between Takadanobaba station and Waseda University, Caress is one of the best-located shops and the only one open until 11:00PM. Even chain cafes close around dinner time, making it a haven for those who want to relax before the last train or squeeze in one more study hour.

This easy-to-pass shop looks modest from the outside but offers plenty of space inside and tends to be quiet during the evening hours. If you want to practice your Japanese skills take a seat at the coffee bar. Or choose from the floor couches in the back, tables, or side room nearest the door with a privacy curtain. Spend ¥1000 for three hours of wifi usage, or otherwise sit back and relax listening to quiet jazz. This place costs slightly more than the other options on this list, but the commitment to quality will make it worth it. Siphon coffee enthusiasts can also get their fix at Caress.

Caress is located at 3 Chome-15-2, Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku City Tokyo. Visit their official website and follow them on Instagram.

Brianna Fox-Priest is a freelance journalist in Japan covering coffee, video games, and Japanese pop culture. Read more Brianna Fox-Priest on Sprudge.

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